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This article is from the In-Depth Report Science and the U.S. Election

McCain and Obama camps latch onto new media (with varying degrees of success)

Barack Obama's campaign has dissed his opponent John McCain for his supposed lack of computer competence. While some have come to McCain's defense, a new study indicates the Obama camp is making better use of technology than McCain's people are.

A recent study by Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism finds that Obama was first to use the Web as a campaign tool; the think tank says McCain's crew has finally gotten on board, recently adding a social networking component and other new features. Too little too late? Looks that way, says Pew, noting that Obama’s online social network of registered users is more than five times larger than McCain’s, according the sites’ own accounting, and his site draws almost three times as many unique visitors each week.

Among other findings of the study:

  • The Obama site has more text, including an extensive archive of Obama's speeches (in August alone, there were 50,676 words on Obama's website compared with 21,021 words on McCain's).
  • As of September 9, Obama had 510,799 MySpace "friends" (compared to McCain's 87,652) and more than 1.7 million Facebook pals (compared to 309,591 for McCain). The Obama camp also had twice as many videos posted on his official YouTube channel than McCain.
  • In contrast, GOP VP pick Sarah Palin figures far more prominently on McCain's Web site than the Dems' VP pick Joe Biden does on Obama's home page.

According to Hitwise, a company that tracks Internet traffic, the Obama Web site attracted 72 percent  of visitors during the week ending August 30, which is about what it was when Hitwise began monitoring both Web pages on June 28. The Web site Idolhands.com a few weeks ago observed that Obama's site more technologically advanced than that of McCain.

By the way: Eager to get your hands on political info before the elections? Gorloch Interactive has developed an application for the iPhone called Campaign 08, which sends new and information to iPhone users and allows them to answer poll questions.

(Image courtesy of iStockphoto; Copyright: Mark Evans)

 

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